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European Turtle-dove

Streptopelia turtur

CONSERVATION STATUS.

Population trend of the species demonstrates steep decline, which probably is partly caused by global threat of hunting during migration and at its wintering range. The global threats for the breeding populations of the species, which can be applicable for Armenia, are transformation of agricultural lands (including destruction of hedges and scrubs), loss of semi-natural habitats, and changes in agricultural practices, all together can reduce food supply and nesting habitat availability. It is thought that the decline in food is the main limiting factor rather than decline in nest site availability. 

HABITAT.

Wide variety of woodland types, as well as steppe and semi-desert; does not inhabit unbroken forests, preferring forest borders, open woodland and heath with tree clumps. Avoids windy, cloudy and wet regions preferring sunny, dry and sheltered areas; also avoids mountains and in continental Europe thrives below 350 m, rarely ascending to 500 m in temperate zone; further south occurs up to 1000–1300 m. Although tolerates humans does not breed close to towns or villages.

FEEDING BEHAVIOR.

Herbaceous species found in the diet whose seeds ripen earlier in the season may play an important role in nesting since they are frequently the only available food in the first half of the breeding season. Although largely arboreal, finds most of its food on the ground.

 

EGGS.

Lays two white eggs; incubation 13–14 days starting with second egg, hatching almost synchronous; fledging 20 days. Has a refractory period (when unresponsive to stimuli) following breeding, unique among all pigeons so far studied. First breeding at one year old.

YOUNG.

Young birds stay with adults for a short period and then dispersion starts.

DIET.

Seeds and fruits of weeds and cereals comprise most of diet; seeds taken include those of Brassica, Chenopodium, Fumaria, Helianthus, Medicago and TriticumSetaria seeds comprised 42% of diet in one study. Berries and fungi are occasionally eaten; also earthworms, some insects, pupae and small snails. 

NESTING.

Starts May in Europe. Nest is flimsy platform of small twigs, lined with grass stems or roots and leaves, placed in a tree, shrub or hedge; occasionally uses old nests of passerines e.g. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos), Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio).

MIGRATION.

Strongly migratory in most populations, but a few African birds resident in south of breeding range. Most birds winter from Senegambia to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Birds set off South in July to September / October, moving again to the North in March–May. Unusual in exhibiting a broad front migratory pattern on its way to its African wintering grounds. 

DISTRIBUTION.

The species is distributed in Western Eurasia. The subspecies S. t. turtur (Linnaeus, 1758) lives in Central and Southern Britain, east to Poland and Northern Russia, south to Northern Mediterranean coast, and on through Asia Minor and Syria to Kazakhstan and Western Siberia; also lives in Canary Islands.

CONSERVATION MEASURES.

In IUCN Red List the species was considered as Near Threatened until 2015, however the last assessment of its conservation status resulted to its change into Least Concern. Despite on that it continues being threatened at the national level. The species is included in Red Book of Animals of Armenia (2010) as DD and in Annex II of the Bern Convention. At current some populations of the species are covered by Zangezur Biosphere Complex and Dilijan National Park, however huge areas of its distribution remain under management of forestry enterprises. Recently, some parts of its breeding range were included in the Emerald Network, protected under Bern Convention.
The proposed conservation measures include: (1) reassessment of its conservation status in the Armenian Red List; (2) improvement of the forestry management practices; (3) development of management plans for the Emerald Sites for improved protection of the species' populations; (4) applying the environmental assessment procedures for each construction project in Dilijan National Park; (5) development of the concept of non-timber forest production for forestry enterprises as an alternative income; (6) development of the nature based tourism in the forests as an additional income source for local rural communities. 

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